Bria Smith is Milwaukee Youth Council's New President
The youth may be told that their voice doesn’t matter, but activist Bria Smith is here to show the youth a different route. Smith has been heavily involved in different movements pushing toward change, especially in minority communities. She has been criticized for standing up for herself and others by speaking out at marches such as March For Our Lives, but she continues to fight because she knows her words and actions can and will make a difference.
Smith just turned 18 last month and now she’s Milwaukee Youth Council’s President, where she’ll “have a versatile approach,” to tackling the issues of Milwaukee. She represents the 6th district with Alderwoman Milele Coggs.
“Young people need to know that they have the power to be in leadership positions,” Smith said. “Destroy the stigma that young people have to wait till 30 to make an impact.”
According to their website, Milwaukee Youth Council represents the youth in their aldermanic district. The members meet with leaders such as the mayor, the school superintendent, business owners and more to advocate for the betterment of youth.
Smith knows that youth don’t tend to have an interest in politics and to fight against this, she suggests adding politics into high school curriculum. She wants the youth to understand that “voting is cool, especially for those who are marginalized.”
She also understands that not everyone wants to be a leader or has the confidence to speak up for themselves, let alone others, which is why she uses her platform to speak for those who can’t. Because when an older person speaks on a younger person, they’re using their experience from at least 20 years ago.
But what does it really mean to be a young person in Milwaukee in 2019? Only a young person currently experiencing this life can answer the question, she said.
“Speak to young people. Give youth the mic to voice their own issues,” she said to those with a platform.
There are many issues facing the youth, especially in this city, but how often are youth actually given a chance to tell those with power how they feel and what change they want? Not too often.
There is this thing in the city where a lot of adults say they want to help the youth, but most of those individuals never actually connect with the youth. But, if you’re going to involve the youth, really involve them in all aspects, said Smith.
“If I was young enough to be in injustice, I’m young enough to speak about it,” said Smith to those who don’t think youth should speak on topics that are directly affecting them. “[Your opinion] shouldn’t be discredited by what you look like. [Because] we [the youth] have the power to reform so much and revolutionize our community.”